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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BASKETBALL REGIONALS

Brea Struggles but Gets Revenge Against Hawks

Division II girls: Laguna Hills, which beat Ladycats on way to 1997 title, leads in third quarter but falls short at end.

March 08, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Brea Olinda, trailing in the third quarter, asserted its dominance late in the game and beat Laguna Hills, 57-39, Tuesday in the first round of the Southern California Regional girls' basketball playoffs.

It was the first time the teams had met since 1997, when Laguna Hills beat the Ladycats in the regional final, 40-29, en route to its only state championship.

The Hawks (18-14) hoped to repeat history with a collection of players who struggled through the Sea View League, finishing third, entered the playoffs with a .500 record but closed the season like the Southern Section Division II-A champions they were. They knocked off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeded teams in the section playoffs, and had Brea (26-6), two-time defending state champion, on the run.

Christina Leets, a sophomore on the junior varsity who was called up for the playoffs, gave Laguna Hills a 30-29 lead with 2 minutes 26 seconds left in the third quarter, but that was the Hawks' last hurrah.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, if we lose, there is no tomorrow,' " Brea's Chelsea Trotter said. "There is no redemption after this."

It was Laguna Hills' only lead of the night.

Brea reeled off a 20-2 run as Tara Hefferly hit one three-point basket, Jackie Lord hit two three-pointers, and Trotter played like last season's player of the year.

"They got up on us by 15 in, like, two minutes," said Laguna Hills' sophomore point guard, Megan Aaker. "That was impressive."

Aaker scored 18, and her consecutive three-point baskets wiped out most of Brea's 27-19 lead before Leets' go-ahead 15-footer.

But Brea had too much talent, and it eventually showed against Laguna Hills' 2-3 zone and diamond-and-one against Trotter.

Lord, who made four three-point baskets, scored a game-high 19, tallying 11 in the second half. Hefferly scored 12, eight in the second half. Trotter, a 6-3 forward who will play at Stanford next season, scored 15, 11 in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter. Her defensive presence was huge; she blocked two shots, altered several others, had five steals and a game-high seven rebounds.

"They're well-coached, they know exactly what they want to do on offense, they go to their studs and everyone else works off that," Trotter said. '

And Laguna Hills' defense?

"Not once did I get an easy flash to the basket," Trotter said.

Very little was easy for Brea, which led at the end of the first two quarters, 10-5, and 20-17.

"When you're a substantial underdog and well-coached, and you work hard, you can play with anyone," Brea Coach Jeff Sink said. "They played hard and hit some big shots."

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